Ranveer Singh and us ‘aam’ aadmi: forever in pursuit of ‘apna time’

19th Jan 2019
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Ranveer Singh's new viral rap 'apna time aayega' took me back in time when I was shown that I did not deserve to be on this table.

I still remember that night when my sister and I had dinner at one of our relative’s homes a long time ago. The details of that exact date and year are hazy, but the memory of that night is still fresh in my mind. We were four cousins in the age group of seven to 10, all hungrily devouring our much-loved meal combo of milk and roti (yes, mixing milk and chapattis with a dash of sugar was a particular delicacy for us).

But what I remember more clearly than anything from that night is the time my sister and I were not given, nor offered ‘aam’, or mango, like my other two cousins were. As kids, who did not understand the importance of a rich background, we were baffled by this discrimination. Didn’t the adults realise that adding mango to our combo of milk and roti makes it a heavenly delight? That us two sisters loved it as much as our cousins did?

So, in the characteristic uninhibited spirit of a child, I asked, “Why are there no mango for us?” And pat came the reply, "Mangoes are expensive. What have you done to earn one?” I instantly wondered what had the other two done to deserve them. Obviously, as a child, I was oblivious to the significance of our cousins’ rich background. My sister and I, on the other hand, were considered appendages from a middle-class family, which we were at that time.

Adding insult to injury, the lady of the house laughingly told the others, "This one is such a clever girl." No way meaning it as praise.

But you know why this incident has stayed with me all these years? Not because of how I was made to feel. But because of the look I caught on my sister's face. The longing in her eyes for that mango.

The disappointment on her face for not being able to get one. I didn't know how, but I made up my mind that very moment, amidst all of our innocent childlike bewilderment, that we will never want for another mango ever again in our lives. That ‘apna time aayega.’ My time will come.

So, when I saw Ranveer Singh rap the lyrics to this now viral song titled ‘Apna time aayega’ from his upcoming movie 'Gully Boy', I knew instantly what he meant. That was me, a 10-year-old child, and me in so many other phases of my life. When I watched that video, it was me, not Ranveer Singh, rapping, “Apna time aayega. Tu nanga hi toh aaya thha, kya Mango lekar jaayega? (My time will also come. You came into the world without anything. Do you think you will take back the mango with you?)

apna time
Over the years, that elusive mango fruit has been a metaphor for many things in my life. It has shown me what it means to be excluded. And in many ways, I am thankful for that.

The fire in the belly would have long been extinguished without any of the discrimination, exclusion, and the many "you don't deserve to be on this table.”

In the context of our startup ecosystem too, I feel the same divide growing. Between the aam aadmis (common folks) and those with the ‘mangoes’ or privileges. Just last night, someone asked me, "Did you go for this private dinner by this investor where all the who’s who from the startup world were present"? I said, no. He asked again if only to invite a reaction to this exclusion, “But you must have been invited for that event?” I replied I wasn’t, adding in jest that the new cool was not to go to these events and dinners. He did not probe any further, but the message had been delivered.

The intellectual and social snobbery I have witnessed in the startup world since entering the arena 10 years ago still remains. Only the players and their faces keep changing. The so-called successful entrepreneurs, investors, and the rest of the gurus, who think they have arrived, are also so fleeting. They huddle up at the top and then disappear just like the changing weather, only for someone else to quickly occupy their place.

Which brings me back to the point, that even as we enjoy the fruits of our success or ‘mangoes,’ there is an aam admi, an underdog, a seeming nobody, who has his eye on your ‘mangoes’ and is singing ‘apna time aayega’.

So, why not share our ‘mangoes’ with as many as we can, as long as we can, and in whatever way we can? Why not be compassionate to as many? Why not be less judgmental with as many?

Because, to add to Ranveer Singh’s message, I’d say, SABKA time aayega.

(Subscribe to my Newsletter, 'Conversations with Shradha', here.)

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